Last week a few friends gather for lunch as we celebrated a birthday. This special time is more about the friendships we have shared for so many years and is filled with laughter, stories and up-dates about our children, grandkids and life in general. There is always encouragement, joy and gratefulness for each other with these sweet ladies!
The girls came to my house this time, and just for fun, I prepared a French-themed menu.
I will be sharing the recipes here on my blog this week.
The next day, two of our grandchildren came, and tasted the left-over Ratatouille. I was surprised they liked it because I thought it had a bold taste. I made a few changes so we could compare and decide the better version. They were so excited to make the recipe themselves. Later that evening, we all curled up on the sofa to watch Disney's Ratatouille movie and enjoyed the warmth of the first fire of the season in the wood burning stove. Ratatouille and popcorn makes a kid happy ;)
Keri and Caleb (he decided he'd rather not be in the photos, so just his fingers are showing) prepared a dish of Ratatouille themselves.
The original recipe uses a can of tomato paste mixed with water and produces a thick, rich, bold tomato flavor with a deeper color. We tried substituting an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce for the tomato paste and did not add water. We also tossed in a few thinly sliced mushrooms because I had some in the refrigerator that needed to be used. As expected, it was more mild-flavored but still very good tasting. After tasting both versions over and over, we finally concluded we liked the original recipe a just little bit better.
Recipe Source: Allrecipes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup water
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 small eggplant, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 zucchini, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or to taste
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Spread tomato paste into the bottom of a 10x10-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with onion and garlic and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and water until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and black pepper.
Arrange alternating slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper, starting at the outer edge of the dish and working concentrically towards the center. Overlap the slices a little to display the colors.
Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves. Cover vegetables with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.
Bake in the preheated oven until vegetables are roasted and tender, about 45 minutes. if desired, serve with dollops of mascarpone cheese.